John Muir Trail day 7

Today we woke up in Mammoth mountain. We followed our typical morning schedule of taking about two hours to get up and out of bed. When we awoke we talked about what to do for the day. There had been some question of what to do for the day. None of us were willing to wake up early this day to catch the bus to Yosemite. Ended up reserving the room for another day so we had somewhere to say in Mammoth Lakes.

The free breakfast provided by the hotel was pretty lame. Some orange juice, coffee, and small muffins and donuts. So, we went in search of food for the day. I personally wanted to get lunch but we ended up wandering into a place that was still serving breakfast. I got french toast and a Bloody Mary to eat. We spent some time time there eating, Rich got nothing to eat. After this we headed up to the village portion of town to check out the Octoberfest that was happening today. It ended up being more lame than we expected it to be. It was quite small and the beer they had was overpriced. Our boredom led us back to the hotel, and we went across the street to the hot tub (our hotel’s hot tub was closed for maintenance and they had a deal with the neighboring hotel). It turned out to be more of a lukewarm pool than a hot tub.

After this we returned to our room and watched some movies on TV until we went to go and get dinner. Ended up stopping at a place we passed by the day before, Base Camp Cafe. Turned out to have some really great food there. Had a good sandwich and some of Mammoth Brewing Co Epic IPA. After dinner Rich and I went to a bar for another beer while Mike went back to the room and packed for a bit. When Rich and I returned, the three of us played a couple rounds of ERF. The neighbors complained that we were “playing basketball”, so we had to stop playing cards. We then got some rest before our long day of travel ahead.

John Muir Trail day 6

Woke up on the shore of Thousand Islands Lake. There was a nice view of the mountains and the lake provided a reflection of them. Sat by the lake, read a little, and then had some tea and breakfast. While having breakfast an obnoxious couple gave us a lecture on Leave No Trace and how we should be camping more than 100ft from water and on a durable surface. Not really the way one wants to start a day. Eventually we got everything packed up and got started on our way.

We headed down the John Muir Trail and saw some more smaller lakes along the trail. The scenery was not nearly as impressive as the day before. Still got some ok photos. We came to the lake we were going to have lunch earlier than expected. Decided that we would take a side trail to the North Creek Trail to Agnew Meadows. This cut out some of the hills we would have had to hike up. The hike down to the river had no switchbacks (much to Richie’s delight).

The hike along the river wasn’t very eventful. The trail was not well maintained and occasionally it would seem like we lost it. Rich kept complaining about wanting lunch. Eventually we came to the junction that we would have joined up with had we continued on the JMT. The junction was blocked off by some logs. While hiking we had essentially decided to hike out the whole way as this day was only going to be 6 miles. Rich wasn’t happy about spending an extra day at a hotel.

Further down the trail we came to the actual North Creek trail junction. We determined that we were supposed to cross the stream. It didn’t really impact our travels too much. Hiked on for a while and met a couple by a bee hive along the trail. The man thought that he had been bit (not stung) by one. Hiked on more lost Rich and Mike. Stopped at a trail junction to wait for them and talked with some guys there about our trek. Found that we were pretty close to the parking lot.

We got to the parking lot and rested for a bit, then we started out on the road. Our plan was to hike down the road and hopefully hitch a ride. A couple hundred feet down the road we were picked up by the couple we met on the trail by the bee hive. They gave us a ride into Mammoth Lakes. We wandered around and started searching for a place to stay. The first place we came to only had one room and at a higher price than we wanted. We ended up staying at the Econo Lodge a little further down the street. After we got our room squared away and cleaned up ourselves we went in search of food. Wandered for a while and eventually ate at a place called Grumpy’s. Then went back to the room and passed out.

John Muir Trail day 5

Woke up extremely cold this morning in the valley. We should have put the fly on the tent. The tent was covered in dew and a bunch had dripped down onto Mike’s sleeping bag. Slowly got our gear together, had breakfast, and bid farewell to the valley.

The trail soon started on its upward climb. For a while the trail followed the stream we had camped by. Eventually the trail turned away from the stream but stayed in the trees. We came upon two deer and a faun. The mother deer would try to push the faun down with her front legs so we couldn’t see it. The faun was fairly curious and took a couple strips towards us. Eventually the decided to bound away. While hiking upwards we kept getting impressive views behind us of the valley we just left. We hiked through the spot we were supposed to have camped yesterday. This site was not really better than the one we stayed at.

Eventually the trail broke out of the forest and the environment changed. The area was rocky and also had large meadows. Gone were out views of the valley behind us. They were replaced with views of magnificent peaks ahead. These peaks were tall, sharp, and had glaciers on them. Eventually we came to a small glacier fed lake and decided to take a quick break. Mike and I took a short swim in it. This was the highest point I have gone swimming at as well as the only glacier fed lake I’ve swam in. We contiued on through similar terrain and made our way towards the pass.

A little ways before reaching the pass we met some other men backpacking the John Muir Trail. They had flown in and had been on the trail for a couple of days as well. They gave us a little info about the pass and trail and took our photo for us. We then continued on. This section had left behind it’s meadow like properties and was fairly rocky. We still had great views of peaks all around us.

When we reached the apex of the pass there was a sign letting us know that we had left Yosemite and entered Inyo National Forest. About one hundred meters or so down the trail the the floor started to drop and we were presented with a great view of the new area we were entering. The mountains were once again very different than previous ones we had seen. We decided to stop and eat our lunch of tuna fish here with a spectacular vista. A couple that was hiking up stopped and chatted for a little. The guy said that we should stay on the John Muir Trail if we would like some more beautiful scenery. This is contrary to other advice we had received earlier in the week.

Hiked downward for a while and the started our ascent for our second pass of the day. This pass was much different than the previous one. Every five steps down this section of the trail presented us with another impressive sight of the mountains to our right. Where the previous pass had been rocky, this one was meadows. Eventually Thousand Islands Lake came into view and we got nice sights of the lake with mountain backdrop. The trail headed down to the lake and we made camp alongside. Watched a decent sunset while cooking dinner. Discovered that this time both Richie’s and my GPS trackers had run out of battery. While cooking dinner the first fuel canister ran out. Guess it was a good thing that we had found another.

John Muir Trail day 4

Today was our first day on schedule as according to our original plan. We were woken up by the park ranger asking if we paid for our tent site. After a little while we got out of the tent and had some tea. The morning air was freezing cold and many of the people walking about were already wearing winter jackets. At around 8:30 we went to the grill to get breakfast. The cinnamon roll was one of the best thing on the menu.

After breakfast we went to the store to get more fuel for the rest of the trip. We found out that we would have to go the the sport store to get some. Grabbed our food from the post office. While Mike and I were at the general store Rich walked over to the sport store to get fuel. He discovered that the store has no iso-butane fuel. The store could not make a complete stove fueled by either white gas or iso-butane. While chatting with shopkeeper another hiker overheard and offered us an extra fuel canister that he had and did not need. This was really great because if we hadn’t found fuel we would have not been able to cook after a day or so. He also told us of another trail that parallels the John Muir Trail on the other side of the creek. From Toulomne Meadows campground you hiked a mile or two and then cross the stream via two foot bridges.

After we finished up at the store and post office we went back to our camp site, divided our food, and packed up. We shipped back our extra food and Mike and Rich sent back extra clothes. Hit the trail around 11. This section of the trail was much different from the earlier sections. We started off in some forest then it opened up to a meadow that followed the stream. A while up the trail we stopped to wash off in the stream and wash some clothes. Took about an hour long break. Later on we stopped at a nice spot along the stream for lunch. I went down a small wanted slide in the river. When we started hiking we ran into a guy we met on top of Cloud’s Rest. Spoke to him for a little before he hiked on.

During our hike to the site, we came across a group of deer in the meadow. Found some more deer further down the trail. The entire time we homes with two large mountain ranges to our left and right. As we neared the end of the meadow our next challenge came slowly into view. Rising up ahead of us was Donahau Peak and Donahau Pass.

We made camp at the edge of the meadow before it the terrain started to rise. Had mashed potatoes with summer sausage for dinner. The meal was prepared quickly with help of the jetboil. This is one that will have to be done again. Sat around and talked for a little while before heading to sleep. While sitting there a couple of deer wandered up to our site while eating.

John Muir Trail day 3

Today we got up at around 8am. While making tea for breakfast two bucks waltzed through our campsite. They both had nice racks, one had five points on each antler. These deer weren’t as friendly as the one the day before. After this distraction we finished up breakfast and packed up.

The trail to the Cloud’s Rest junction was 2.5 miles and gave us some nice views. While on the way up Mike floated the idea of hiking Cloud’s rest since we were here. Got some photos inside a giant tree stump.

When we got to the junction we waffled for a bit on what to do. Spoke with a German couple for a little and then decided to head down to the road. About a hundred feet down the trail we met another group of people hiking Cloud’s Rest. We spoke with them for a little bit and they convinced us to hike it. The one man said that “Cloud’s Rest scares the Half Dome out of you. Good thing we did it the day before. Found out that they were showing one of their friends from Maryland the area.

So we dropped our packs and started our ascent of Cloud’s Rest. The trail was mild and we only had 800 vertical feet to go up over a 1.8 mile distance. Along the way we were provided with some good views of the surroundings.

The real treat came once we broke treeline. The one man was right and the views from Cloud’s Rest put those from Half Dome to shame. You get a full 360 degree view of Yosemite. A good half of what you see is blocked out on half dome, by Cloud’s Rest. Up top we met the German couple that we saw the day before and pointed out the doe to.


The hike down took a bit. After descending Cloud’s Rest the trail started going up hill for a bit. This slowed our pace a little. Once we came to the downhill section I took off. Sped through all the switchbacks and finally arrived at the next trail junction.

Here I waited for Mike and Rich for about 10 minutes. We then checked out the lake and headed for the road. Once there we hitch hiked to Tuolomne Meadows. It took a little but we eventually got picked up by a nice family in a mini van. Chatted with them while the drove us to our destination. Eventually we realized we went too far when we left Yosemite. Luckily it was only a 10 minute drive back to the campground.

John Muir Trail day 1

We were woken up by random tourists at the geology hut. One was a little old lady with a cane. There was a pretty good view of Half Dome and the surrounding area. Finally hit the trail at 11 and had a decent hike down to a stream. The foot bridge o er the stream was since and provided some good photos. I fell into the water here as the granite rocks were very slippery.

It took us a while to get to Nevada Falls. There was a good view here and the had a railing set up so you could look straight down the falls. Here there was a cute girl with black hair, a black skirt and shirt who was jumping from rock to rock with a smile on her face.

We trudged through the next part of the hike which seemed to be long and arduous. We finally made camp at the junction for Cloud’s Rest. For dinner we had chili and once done went to purify water. While diving this our neighbors ran over to let us know that there was a beat in their camp. We went over to see it and got a couple of photos. After it was done with their camp it made its way to ours to look for food. Our bear canisters proved their worth.

John Muir Trail day 2

Tried to wake up earlier this day but we still didn’t get the earliest of starts. The hike up to Half Dome was beautiful. When we got to the bottom of the first hump the terrain got rocky and had many stairs with switchbacks. Half way up we ran into a ranger with a tablet checking permits. The bottom of the cables up Half Dome gives one a daunting view of the upcoming hike. There were a couple pairs of gloves at the start of the car led. Two nice older guys gave us their gloves since they were better than the ones in the pile. The climb was long and took some effort. It was much more of a workout than I expected. You ended up using your arms a lot more.

Once at the top the views were spectacular. A good deal of people were up there taking in the sights. The big attraction was a piece of the rock that jutted out towards Yosemite Valley. There was a short wait to go out on it and take photos. Met a fellow scout up there that had also went to Philmont. Once this was done we got ready to go down. We were delayed a bit because Rich wanted to see the other side.

The trek down went a bit slower than expected. There were times when you would just be hanging out on the side of the mountain for 5 to 10 minutes. During one of these periods we discovered. That the people in front of us were originally from the Poughkeepsie area. Once back at camp we broke down our equipment and went to purify water. Said goodbye to our neighbors and heard of their trip up clouds rest.

On the way to the next campsite we came across a mother bear and her two cubs foraging along the trail side. Got some better bear photos this time. We decided to hike towards the road and take that instead to get to Tuolomne Meadows.

For dinner we had rice and beans. The beans didn’t come out good, next time they will need to sit longer to rehydrate and need more water. We sat around the campfire and chatted a bit. Felt much better today. We definitely begun to hit our stride.

John Muir Trail travel day 2

We started out from the hostel, after sleeping past our first two alarms. The free pancakes at the hostel were actually free pancake batter. Was surprised that they weren’t made for us. We just barely made our bus to the train station, caught it a minute before it left. Took a double decker Amtrak from San Francisco to Merced. There were layovers at each of the train stations. The train ride was decent. Unfortunately, I was unable to sleep. I decided to go and get some food, settled on a hot Cuban sandwich and an Anchor Steam beer.

The bus ride into Yosemite was a long but good. He driver made the trip enjoyable. He had lots of good information about the area as we drove in. It really gave it a nice touch. The views on the approach were spectacular. Unfortunately, Yosemite Falls was turned off since it ran out of water.

When we got to the wilderness center, we discovered that we couldn’t start out as planned. They had already reached their quotas for the area we wanted to start. Instead of starting at Happy Isles, we would start by taking the 4 mile trail (actually 4.7). This led us up to Glacier Point. We had a good dinner at the Yosemite deli. Once done with this we went to the store and bought the fuel for our stove. While waiting for Mike and Rich to be ready to go I talked to a cute girl about our trip.

We had to take the Yosemite shuttles to the trailhead. While waiting we talked to a couple who just finished up some of the John Muir Trail. They assuaged the fears of the cold that Mike put in our heads. The trail was reached by five and got some good views of Yosemite Valley on the way up. The hike took a lot out of us and we went slow. The biggest factor was probably the altitude. We started out at the height of a high peak in the Adirondacks, and went up another. Ended up deciding to stay at the Geology
Hut on top of Glacier Point that night.

John Muir Trail travel day 1

Today we traveled to San Francisco for the start of our journey to the John Muir Trail. Overall the day went pretty well. Started off with a delayed flight due to federal regulations. Flight took a while but wasn’t bad. Highlight was that United listed airplane as an ammenity of my flight.

I arrived around 12 and went to the hostel to check us in. Waited for Mike and Rich to show up and got food. Discovered that we were in the sketchiest section of San Francisco. Still we found a good Burmese restaurant for dinner.

Then we wandered over to the Golden Gate Bridge. It took us a while to get there because the bus system was terrible. Really enjoyed the bridge. Got a bunch of photos from the area. We walked across the bridge and had a good view of the sunset. Overall the view of San Francisco was not that spectacular. It was very windy out and cool. Got chilly after the sun went down.

The hostel advertised that it was a party hostel and seemed to quite invested in maintaining their image. Gave out things like free beer at night.

We instead went and visited Mike’s cousin who lives out here. He books performers and showed us one of the bars he works with. Was a cool place
and had good ambiance. Better than staying for the free beer. In the end we stayed up more than 24 hours.